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By AIMEE LUSTY

The East End has always acted as a historical retreat for artists; whether it be a safe haven for the European exiles escaping World War II, or providing Abstract Expressionists and Pop Artists with a necessary distance from popular culture and the bustling distractions of living in New York City. There is, at present, an influx of younger generation artists, in their twenties, who have migrated towards the Hamptons and formed a unique fellowship attracting a new aesthetic to the art community. Only a handful of venues exist that willingly accept the work of these younger, less traditional artists; this number has grown within the past few years, with the introduction of more artist-curated shows and DIY exhibitions. While their styles differ drastically from the older generation of traditional painters of the East End, their artworks and values are just as authentic, if not more so.


Among the handful of younger emerging artists currently working out of East Hampton, and the surrounding villages, I wish to highlight the work of four peers all under thirty years old. Out of these, three were raised on Eastern Long Island, and after having received fine arts degrees across the country, have returned to the East End to work and pursue their artistic career. These three, Cory Barber, Christian Little, and Charlie Lee are all currently employed by Amagansett Applied Arts and Elizabeth Dow, Ltd. hand-painting wallpaper. While working under constant artistic direction, one may think this would hinder personal creativity. Instead, for these individuals it provides motivation and adequate facilities for production including studio space, a printshop, and large format printing. The fourth peer, Olga Goworek, moved from Poland and drawn to the area's beauty and quietness, provides a unique outside interpretation of the East End landscape and lifestyle.

olga.jpgOlga’s photographs create an almost haunting look at a landscape other local artists so readily portray as idealistic and utopian. She uses her camera as a writing tool; by capturing a unique portrayal of an object or a place, she is creating a new story for it — her translation of an environment with which we are so familiar. Motivated by finding people of different backgrounds who have similar goals as herself, Olga finds influence in the different people and culture encompassing the East End, resulting in a different way of looking at art while encouraging a new aesthetic in her work.


Among her influences and peers is Charlie Lee, who moved back from southern California after attending the School of Laguna of Art and Design where he quickly became dissuaded by the “smog, traffic, and plastic lifestyle” of southern California. He is inspired by the ocean, the unparalleled lighting, the quietness of the winter, and his peers. Charlie most notably paints uncanny portraits of artists within his circle, “people who inspire my art and creativity.” He often depicts his friends with objects and backgrounds that symbolize their personality and character. He is currently working on a series of paintings on petrified wood, cut into discs from gate posts from one of the oldest neighboring cemeteries, inspired by local history he relates “It’s cool to know the surface you’re painting on has a history to it.” Be sure to check out his work in the upcoming exhibition “Inner Beasts” opening July 11 at Mosquito Hawk Gallery, Shelter Island.

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  Cory Barber, Upper Class, graphite

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The Shaman, Christian Little

 

 

 

Unlike Charlie’s intimate portrayal of the East End lifestyle and inhabitants, Cory Barber depicts subject matter meant to offend and mock a certain stereotype of the Hampton’s population. His illustrative work is heavily influenced by high end fashion advertisements, often appropriating models directly from these ads and incorporating his own alternate feelings and ideas, creating new narratives for the borrowed characters. Growing up in East Hampton has allowed him to witness the changes this town has over gone in the past 25 years, being peeved by the over abundance of tourists and negative connotations attached with “The Hamptons” as a luxury resort for the rich. He chooses the subjects in high end fashion advertisements, used to attract and promote this luxurious lifestyle, in order to subtly raise awareness of these changes his hometown has gone through, without overwhelming the viewer, a form of “total social satire.” He incorporates symbols of the upper-class: champagne, roast duck, lobster, and cigars to depict gluttony in a stylized, comical, and cartoonish manner, “It's made in a way where it’s cartoonish and would go well in a kid’s room…light and cheery and not as serious as the idea itself.”

christianlittle.jpgWhile Christian Little’s work is similarly heavily symbolic and subtle, his subject matter, style and execution are much different from the stylized and realistic portrayals of the previously mentioned artists. Christian is influenced by the line oriented illustrative work of Edward Gorey, Marcel Dzama, and Martin Ramirez. He recalls childhood field trips to the Pollock-Krasner house, learning about the artistic history of the East End was instrumental in persuading him to pursue a career in the arts. His imagery is heavily influenced by polytheistic belief systems. He explains: “I am not a religious person, but I like the idea of having these deities that have their own jurisdiction. I like to think of the characters in my work as powerful, otherworldly beings who have their distinct roles in the stages that I set. I am very interested in posing a vague narrative that allows the viewer to interact with the work and derive their own story from it.” Christian’s works are considerably surreal and fueled by the East End’s desolate winter landscapes. He finds less motivation in the beauty of the summer scenery. A member of the Bonac Tonic artist collective; Christian claims reception of this younger generation of emerging artists has grown and become widely accepted in the community.

In an environment that has always fostered creativity, the East End is adapting to accept the new influx of this eclectic group of artists. While each of the aforementioned artists’ work differs drastically — from subject matter to execution — they all hold similar values and influences. Inspired by the beauty and quietness of the Hamptons, each offer their own interpretation of the landscape and culture creating a fresh and unique aesthetic for the East End art community.